Glaus! Heyward! McLouth! Folks, this is really getting good

How's that for your first extra-base hit of 2010? (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

How's that for your first extra-base hit of 2010, Mr. McLouth? Pretty sweet, you say? (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

An amazing thing has happened. A 20-year-old has become the rising tide that is lifting all boats. The Braves beat the reigning National League champs 4-3 on Tuesday on a night when they had no runs and surely no hope after 26 outs.

To recap: They were one out from being blanked on a night when the Phillies’ starting pitcher was Kyle Kendrick, he of the 17.47 ERA. But Kendrick had done as bad pitchers too often have done to the Braves: He made them look timid. He worked eight scoreless innings and left the game to Ryan Madson, who’s not really a closer but who’s trying to bridge the gap until Brad Lidge gets healthy.

Madson walked Chipper Jones with one out. Then he retired Brian McCann, and then you saw who was coming up next and you thought, “Good night, Irene.” Because it was Troy Glaus, the latest incarnation of the All-American out. Put it this way: When last did you hear a guy coming up with two out in the ninth being booed by the home crowd?

It had been, sorry to say, a Glaussian night. He had misplayed a grounder by Ryan Howard into an RBI single in the top of the fourth inning, and in the bottom he had hit into a 5-4-3 double play. Some pitchers have Tommy John surgery. Was it possible the operation Troy Glaus underwent last summer was Greg Norton surgery?

But then, just as you were about to throw a shoe at the TV, Glaus did the darnedest thing. He hit a home run. And suddenly the Braves had hope. They were still down a run, but the No. 6 hitter was due to bat. And it wasn’t the usual No. 6 hitter. No, on this night Bobby Cox had bumped up Jason Heyward, who had been batting in the 7-hole, ahead of Yunel Escobar. Talk about genius managing.

So: Here was Joltin’ Jason with a chance to tie it. And just as you were thinking, “Nah — he can’t do it again,” he did it again.

Home run. Tie game. Unbelievable.

We pause here to note that Heyward’s game-winning single against the Rockies on Sunday mirrored a fairly famous precedent: Bases loaded, two out, the Braves a run down and then walk-off winners. Anybody recall Francisco Cabrera, Game 7, 1992 NLCS?

These are the sort of touchstone wonders Heyward has already wrought, and Tuesday’s astonishment was the most astonishing yet. Because he was the middle man in a most unlikely group of homer heroes: Glaus you didn’t expect; Heyward maybe you did, but then …

Nate McLouth? Who hadn’t had an extra-base hit this season? Whose flailings had prompted this typist to note during Tuesday’s live online chat: “You can’t spell McLouth without O-U-T”? That Nate McLouth?

Yep. Led off the 10th. Hit a home run. Won the wildest game we had seen since … well, since Sunday afternoon.

I’ve said it before, and I say it again: Something’s happening here. The Braves are believing in a way they haven’t believed since the run of division titles was broken in 2006. They’re believing because they’ve got a difference-maker on their side now, a difference-maker who isn’t yet old enough to take a legal sip of champagne. But he will be come October. You might want to file that away.

There was no reason for the Braves to win Sunday, but they did because the rookie took four pitches before finding one to his liking. There was less reason for them to prevail Tuesday, but they did because Glaus, of all people, kept it going for Heyward and because McLouth, of all people, caught the contagion.

Before the game, Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel was asked if a transcendent young player — like the Phillies’ Howard was back in 2005, or like Heyward is today — can energize an entire franchise. “A guy like that can bring excitement and bring energy,” Manuel said. “He can bring a whole lot to a team and to a clubhouse.”

We Atlantans are seeing it on a daily basis. Barely two weeks on the job, Jason Heyward hasn’t just stamped himself as the Next Big Thing. He’s making a big thing out of the team around him. He’s making us think it’s 1991 all over again. And maybe it is.

239 comments Add your comment

We_Run_This_Country

April 20th, 2010
11:03 pm

where’s my feature article?!? :(

We_Run_This_Country

April 20th, 2010
11:05 pm

I was Mark Bradley-esque tonight.

Nesbitt for Heisman!

April 20th, 2010
11:07 pm

Doug

April 20th, 2010
11:07 pm

Aren’t the Bravos undefeated when you are live-blogging, Mark?

(Crap, I just jinxed you!)

Not Don Waddell

April 20th, 2010
11:07 pm

I would still go with Hinske at 1B tomorrow against the righty.

Chris Barrett

April 20th, 2010
11:08 pm

Wow what a game. Wish I could have been there. Heyward shines! Enough said!

heywood...

April 20th, 2010
11:09 pm

Mark Bradley

April 20th, 2010
11:10 pm

Yes, Doug. They’re 4-0. With three last at-bat wins. (Consider them well and truly jinxed.)

Bobby

April 20th, 2010
11:11 pm

SWEET WIN! HAWKS WIN AND ALL IS GOOD IN THE ATL TONIGHT…

SHO-NUFF

April 20th, 2010
11:15 pm

Man it’s nice to be coming out on top of the 1 run games. Mighty fine!

wxwax

April 20th, 2010
11:16 pm

Exciting times. It’s been a long time since the Braves have felt this way.

SmoltzFAN

April 20th, 2010
11:16 pm

Heyward is sensational! But this team can’t win consistently until the rest of the lineup learns hit consistently…There’s just no way they could keep up this miraculous pace. Another high note the bullpen is fantastic!Please somebody show up to watch this team!

SHO-NUFF

April 20th, 2010
11:17 pm

I loves it when a plan comes together!

Tyler

April 20th, 2010
11:17 pm

Great piece Mark. I am also cautiously optimistic, but listening to those last 2 innings on the radio during the drive home, well it brought back shades of the 90’s for sure.

Jamaaliver

April 20th, 2010
11:17 pm

Any other young studs in the minors who might be able to provide some more ooomph! to our lineup? Any word on how Freeman is faring in AAA?

Mark Bradley

April 20th, 2010
11:18 pm

It was pretty cool, Tyler. I won’t lie.

Youngerthan Thatnow

April 20th, 2010
11:19 pm

MB… you sell yourself short on this one. Nice piece!!

Mark Bradley

April 20th, 2010
11:19 pm

Freeman is hitting .190, last I checked, Jamaaliver.

And with that, I’m headed home. Anybody want anything from Taco Bell?

GovClintonTyree

April 20th, 2010
11:20 pm

Did y’all see the Braves clear out of the dugout as McLouth rounded the bases so he came back to an empty dugout? Hilarious!

bravesfan

April 20th, 2010
11:22 pm

Good thing we didn’t do the smart thing and leave Heyward in the minors for the first few weeks of the season

ATLiens

April 20th, 2010
11:22 pm

great article mark… you eloquently captured everything that was right and wrong about tonight. go braves. keep’em coming

Youngerthan Thatnow

April 20th, 2010
11:23 pm

Friday night… seven runs in the second… and I watch at home.

Sunday afternoon… Braves win it with a walk off 2 rbi hit by JHey… and I watch at home.

Tuesday night… Braves win it in 10 with two HR’s in the 9th and a walk off in the 10th… and I watch at home.

Saturday night… Braves get no hit against the Rox… and I’m there to see it all.

The moral to this story… I’ll just stay home.

Tailgate Approved

April 20th, 2010
11:23 pm

Glaus’s homer is No. 2 all-time on the list of unexpected Braves’ blasts. No. 1? Rick Camp vs. Mets in that 5th of July marathon in ‘86 was it?

BG

April 20th, 2010
11:24 pm

Happened to catch the game on XM while flying to Tampa tonight. Of course we landed just about the time Heyward tied it in the 9th so I had to rely on a co-worker to fill me in on the McLouth HR. Let’s not forget Wagner, he’s been mighty impressive. Great to see the ‘never give up’ attitude that has been missing for a long time. Go Braves!

SHO-NUFF

April 20th, 2010
11:26 pm

With the team the Braves have in ATL and the players they have on the farm, on their way up, I would have to say the future looks very bright or maybe even brilliant for the organization. Maybe Frand W. has a little more smarts than the Pi$$ and Moaners give him credit for.

luvthosedawgs68

April 20th, 2010
11:26 pm

Mark, Great point on Bobby’s decision to switch Yunel and J-Hey in the lineup. The manager has taken his lumps by fans lately, but he’s looking like a genius right now. Also, can;t say enough about the bullpen early in this season. 6 1/3 innings, and only 1 run. They’re the reason the boppers had the chance to excite us so much.

Tailgate Approved

April 20th, 2010
11:27 pm

As the old Miller Lite commercial announcer says when a dog catches a touchdown pass yo win a game: “I have officially seen everything!”

Youngerthan Thatnow

April 20th, 2010
11:27 pm

Friday night… Braves score 7 in the 2nd… and I watch it at home.

Sunday afternoon… Braves win it in the last with JHey driving in 2 with 2 out… and I watch it at home.

Tuesday night… Braves win it in 10th with a HR with two HR’s in the 9th to tie it… and I watch it at home.

Saturday night… Braves get no hits against the Rox… and I’m there at Turner Field to see it all.

The moral to this story… I’ll just watch the rest at home.

SHO-NUFF

April 20th, 2010
11:30 pm

Tailgate, you’re going to see a lot more this season. The Braves are just getting started.

Hank Still The King

April 20th, 2010
11:32 pm

Joltin’ Jason…

Yes. Gettin’ better…

PlusSizeModel

April 20th, 2010
11:32 pm

“No, on this night Bobby Cox had bumped up Jason Heyward, who had been batting in the 7-hole, ahead of Yunel Escobar. Talk about genius managing.”

This is sarcasm, right? Heyward should’ve been in the five hole a week ago, if not the four. Inexplicable. As is having three HOF pitchers on your staff with one title to show for it.

count_schemula

April 20th, 2010
11:33 pm

The kid for ROY and MVP, not to put any more pressure on him or anything. And Glaus is still in my dog house for the misplayed ball the helped contribute to Hanson’s downfall and the double play. I have not given up on Glaus, but he needs to be batting, like 7th.

PlusSizeModel

April 20th, 2010
11:33 pm

“No, on this night Bobby Cox had bumped up Jason Heyward, who had been batting in the 7-hole, ahead of Yunel Escobar. Talk about genius managing.”

This is sarcasm, right?

Barkin'Dog

April 20th, 2010
11:33 pm

Absolutely perfect post game report, Mark. Brilliantly written, I say!

I was checking in on the blog, but didn’t post… too depressing. Most of the blowhard prophets spewed more venum and vomit than I can remember, with no consideration of all 27 outs (28 in the 10th). This is a special team in a special year (Bobby’s last). I did not count on J-Hey doing what he’s done, but did feel a Post Season was in the offing. And what about those who, after all he’s done for this franchise, still bash Bobby’s managing… I wish they’d just, for one last season, STHU. You said is wonderfully… on this night Bobby Cox had bumped up Jason Heyward (to the 6-spot), who had been batting in the 7-hole, ahead of Yunel Escobar. Talk about genius managing.

Thanks for putting this moment, especially following the Sunday heroics, into exotic euphoria for us. This was a great night, and a start to a magical season. Go Braves! Let’s get Bobby another Series ring for retirement!!

Jo

April 20th, 2010
11:34 pm

well……….can we score runs early in the game before we have to go all dramatic and give everyone heart attacks??!!!

David Smith

April 20th, 2010
11:35 pm

Great win tonight guys!!!! When Chipper drew a walk and I saw Glaus coming up to bat like many other fans I felt if that the game would soon be over (especially since Glaus grounded out with the bases loaded earlier). When Glaus (Improbable), Heyward (Legendary), and then McLouth????(Speechless) hammering three nails into the Phillies coffin for an improbable win I was ecstatic!!. I’m very proud of the fight in this team and both Glaus and McLouth deserve a big hand for toughing it out after respective slow starts (J-Hey is a BEAST!!!). GO BRAVES!!!

count_schemula

April 20th, 2010
11:36 pm

6th come behind win this year. That’s the magic it takes to get to the postseason.

Dougie Fresh

April 20th, 2010
11:36 pm

Buffalo Springfield – For What It’s Worth…anthem for your article

kjb

April 20th, 2010
11:37 pm

bump Heyward up one more spot (5th spot)!!!!! Go Braves!!!!

tree rollins

April 20th, 2010
11:39 pm

Didn’t we say all this about Jeff Francoeur before? Oh yeah, he is a great hitter after all – just not for our team. But that’s Ok – we got Ryan Church for him so it all worked out in the wash. Hope Frank Wren’s not around when Jason comes off contract.

MLH

April 20th, 2010
11:40 pm

Now if we can get some fans to show up at Turner Field….

count_schemula

April 20th, 2010
11:43 pm

We’ve been over the Francoeur thing. He came out of high school a football player and was rushed to the majors from AA. Frenchy never developed and believed in the fundamentals. Heyward has ONLY played baseball his whole life. He’s an actual baseball player, you can see it in everything he does on the baseball field.

Mitchell

April 20th, 2010
11:44 pm

I said it yesterday, I’m saying it again… I, uh, said before the season started that I thought Jason could be the first guy to win both Rookie of the Year and MVP since Ichiro.

I didn’t scream it from the hilltops but I did say it and now that other people are starting to say it I can’t help get a little obsessive about it.

I’ll let it go, but I did say it… on one of the blogs, sometime, in March.

I swear. Let’s face it, he’s already got Rookie of the Year. You can forget about that Strassburg.

Orlando's Cepeda

April 20th, 2010
11:47 pm

So Glaus homers.WTF! I guess Jo Jo Reyes will pitch
a no hitter next. HOLY COW!!!!!!!!!

Reid Adair

April 20th, 2010
11:49 pm

Troy Glaus had a big home run tonight, but I still think that was a bad signing by Frank Wren. Over the long haul, Glaus’ numbers will be disappointing. Maybe he’ll prove me wrong, but I doubt it.

Mitchell

April 20th, 2010
11:49 pm

I’m still pissed though. When Heyward hit that homerun I felt like a Red Sox fan after Game 4 of the ALCS against the Yankees.

I was ready to be put out of my misery but then, out of nowhere, they were back in it.

Sunday, I was totally in the “believe” mode. I knew it wasn’t over. I was believin’ but tonight I just wanted it to be over.

Damn it Braves! Damn it Me!

That was early ’90s stuff.

mtnjacket

April 20th, 2010
11:52 pm

There seems to be a good chemistry developing with this team. They seem to be having fun–note the cold shoulder given to Chipper a few days ago after a hr, and then the dugout cleared for Mclouth tonight.
They’re loose, they’re having fun. Good signs. Hope it continues.

Truth Speaker

April 21st, 2010
12:03 am

Jason Heyward > Ryan Howard

Mark Bradley > Jeff Schultz

Bradford

April 21st, 2010
12:04 am

I think the most important thing we saw tonight as Braves fans was players having fun. A team to create a new walk off routine (clearing the dugout on a walk off HR) is not only a team expecting to win but also a team that is having fun playing together. Both things are huge and great to see in this team. Exciting to say the least!

GO BRAVES!!

MaddenKing

April 21st, 2010
12:05 am

Jason Heyward is remiding me of Albert Pujols when he came up his rookie year, guys we are watching a future HOF and he’s doing this at twenty, this guy is so patient at the plate, he is getting pitches that only great players who are veterans get and is setting the pitcher up to fail cause he has to throw an actual pitch and he’s taking advantage of his oppurtunites every single time, this guy is going to be in the running of MVP this yr, mark my words.